Reader question: long haul business class seats on short haul routes

BA should i buy avios

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It is my father’s 70th birthday and he loves flying but rarely gets the chance to do so. I would like to take him on a special flight somewhere in Europe. We would like to fly business class and ideally visit a nice destination as well. Are there any airlines that have a better short haul business class or offer long haul business class seats on certain routes?

There are quite a number of short haul routes where a long haul aircraft is used. Here is my selection of the best options:

British Airways to Madrid

BA club world seats

BA Club World seats

BA will be flying a B777 between London and Madrid from 26 March 2017 for the summer season.

The B777 is only available on the following flights:longhaul aircraft on short haul routes europe


BA458 LHR-MAD 0720-1050

BA459 MAD-LHR 1220-1350

If you book Club Europe you will get Club World business class seats. They also appear to be letting Gold customers select First class seats, although there is a danger they may be moved back to Club if there are empty seats.

The disadvantage is that Madrid is now classed as a Medium route for the new Club Europe catering. This means is fine on the way out as you will get a hot breakfast but coming back you only get a sandwich or tiny salad. Here is the full catering menu:

  • Breakfast (to 09.29) – hot breakfast including a vegetarian choice with yoghurt (no fruit plate)
  • Lunch (11.00 – 13.59) – salad (currently ex LHR a tiny coronation chicken and prawns with no actual salad) or a large hot sandwich as per brunch plus bread basket and a dessert pot

Champagne is still available though! You can read more about the new Club Europe catering here.

The average price is round £325 return but there is likely to be another BA sale in the next couple of months where prices can fall to around £220 return.

long haul aircraft on short haul europe

Plaza Major, Madrid

Madrid is often overlooked as a city destination in favour of Barcelona but having a visited a few times I can say it is well worth a visit. It has world class restaurants, bars nightlife and hotels. There is plenty to do including the Prado museum with its Picasso painting, the Royal Palace, the lovely Plaza Mayor and a myriad of tapas bars. Madrid can get very hot in the summer so I would check the likely temperatures on before you book.

LATAM Madrid to Frankfurt

LATAM business class on its B787

One option is to combine the BA B777 with the LATAM flight to Frankfurt. The LATAM uses a B787 Dreamliner which would be a great trip for an aviation enthusiast. The long haul seats are also very good. Since the flight is a couple of hours, you would have time to enjoy the seat. If you have Avios to burn, you could book an open jaw Heathrow-Madrid-surface-Frankfurt-Heathrow and use 15,000 Avios for the LATAM flight.  Otherwise you can often get this for £113 one way depending on the date. You will earn both Avios and tier points on LATAM.


Air France to Paris

Air France are using their new B787 between London and Paris for a short period this year. It was originally due to end the service on 25 March but this has now been extended until 28th October 2017. This will allow you to experience Air France’s updated long haul business class product from £270 return.

The B787 has the same reverse herringbone style seating as American, Cathay, Qatar and Finnair. This allows every passenger to have direct aisle access as well as a fully flat-bed.


air france B787 dreamliner business class review

I did this trip in February and although the flight was very short, it was a great experience. You can read the review here.

The LHR-CDG offer flights operates daily, except for at night

Prices are from £78 in Economy Class or £270 in Business Class return, including tax.

The flights that you need to book for the B787 are the following (bit of an early start I’m afraid)

LHR-CDG  AF1681    Departs  0940 Arrives 1155

CDG-LHR  AF1680   Departs 0725 Arrives 0740

You can combine them with a different aircraft one way if you don’t fancy the early start but that will cost slightly more. The special promotion page is here.


Finnair A350 to Helsinki or Tallinn



finnair northern lights theme business class cabin

A350 business class with Northern lights mood lighting. Photo supplied by Finnair


If you wanted to get BA status then Tallin may be worth considering. On Finnair it would get you 200 tier points for a relatively short trip. Currently Finnair operates their A350 from Heathrow on flights AY831 and the return AY832 daily. There are often some great deals on this route around the £200 mark for flight only or around £300 with accommodation through Expedia. The only disadvantage is that the Tallin flight involves a connecting flight, but you get 2 planes for the price of 1! Alternatively you could just stay in Helsinki.

I shall be doing this trip in May with my Roving Reporter, so look out for a full trip report.

Tallinn, Estonia old city skyline at dawn.

Tallinn may have previously gained a reputation for stag weekends but it is now trying to turn itself into a more upmarket destination. Being only 15 minutes from the airport into the city, it makes an ideal short break with a mix of modern and old. The walled Old Town is one of the best preserved Hanseatic town centres in the world and is a UNESCO world Heritage site. Close to the Old Town you’ll find the city’s business centre with modern towers and luxurious hotels, trendy neighbourhoods and large shopping centres. The restaurant scene is also blossoming in Tallinn with a number of good restaurants to choose from.